Summer in Minnesota is great for boating ... and it is also a time for BWIs. BWI stands for “Boating While Intoxicated.” and it is (and it isn't) the same as a Minnesota DWI charge, but indicates that the offender was operating a boat under the influence rather than a car.
What is BWI?
In Minnesota, it is illegal to operate a boat or personal watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration greater than (.08). As like with a DWI, violators of this law can be charged with a crime --- BWI --- (Boating While Intoxicated) and be subject to a court proceeding and consequences. If you need help with such a charge, you should contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.
What Happens if Your Are Arrested for A BWI?
The consequences of a Minnesota BWI arrest are nearly the same as those of a Minnesota DWI offense.
A first time BWI charge is a Misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, payment of a fine of $1,000, and suspension from operating a boat/watercraft for 90 days of the boating season.
As with Minnesota DWIs, a Minnesota BWI charge is an enhanceable offense, meaning that if certain “aggravating factors” are present, the charge becomes a more serious offense --- even a Felony --- with significant sanctions.
BWI Aggravating Factors
A BWI can become more serous based on a number of things, including:
Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of .20 percent or more;
A prior conviction for DWI or test refusal in the 10 years leading up to the charge; and
A passenger under age 16 on the boat or watercraft at the time of the offense.
The presence of any of these factors will result in a higher degree of BWI being charged --- even a Felony. he higher the degree of BWI, the stricter the punishment. Below are the penalties for gross misdemeanor BWI offenses:
- A fine of up to $3,000
- A longer period of mandatory jail time
- Participation in long-term monitoring programs
- Chemical Dependency assessments
- Loss of driver’s license privileges
- Plate impoundment of all motor vehicles owned by the offender
- Forfeiture of the boat involved in the incident
A felony BWI charge is the most serious. In addition to the above sanctions, felony BWI offenders can be sentenced to (in addition to those things listed above):
- Three to seven years in prison;
- Up to $14,000 in fines; and
- Extended periods of license revocation
An experienced Minnesota BWI defense lawyer can help keep you or someone you love from suffering the worst consequences for these charges. Regardless of the degree of your offense, call the Rolloff Law Office to help you review your charges, get the right answers and resolve your case in a favorable way.